Born in Belfast in 1943, T. Jack Thompson read modern history at Queen’s University before going to Edinburgh for postgraduate studies and a Ph.D. He worked as a missionary in Malawi for 13 years, after which he went to work as as a lecturer at Selly Oak Colleges, Birmingham. In 1993 he became a lecturer at the University of Edimburgh where he taught African Christianity and eventually became the director of the Center for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World.
An superb historian, Thompson wrote 3 books on Christianity in Malawi (Christianity in Northern Malawi: Donald Fraser’s Missionary Methods and Ngoni Culture, 1995; Touching the heart: Xhosa Missionaries to Malawi, 1876-1888, 2000; and Ngoni, Xhosa and Scot: Religious and Cultural Interactions in Malawi, 2007). His last volume was a particularly well-received volume entitle Light on Darkness: Missionary Photography in Africa in the 19th C and early 20th C (2012).
Thompson passed away in August 2017. Two years before, he contacted QUB to see whether he could apply for a Queen’s Higher Doctorate. This was possible and we discussed procedure. Somehow Jack did not follow it up – I presume his health got in the way. It was a great pity for this would have been a perfect closing act for a unique student from Queen’s who went on to have a distinguished academic career in the history of Africa.